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The PR Genius of the Greyhound Racing Association of America

I like to give credit where it’s due. Go to the site for the Greyhound Racing Association of America, click on "Media Tools," then drop down to "Get Involved," and click on "Racing Opponents."

And there, my friends, you’ll see a smattering of facts, some genius spin, and an unfortunate preponderance of misleading connections.

Let’s deconstruct:

  • Most important, for me, is the misuse of one fact that most people aren’t aware of: Animal welfare and animal rights are NOT synonymous, and in fact are contradictory. Animal welfare does indeed assume that animals can–and should–be used for food, clothing, and even sport, but that they should be treated humanely.

What they don’t say is that the animals that are part of these institutions (that provide food, clothing, and sport) are all but excluded from any kind of laws that protect animals.

  • The Greyhound Racing Association of America is less correct on the next point.
    • It is correct that animal rights rejects all animal use
    • But it is not correct in stating that the animal rights position is "that animals are the same as humans in all important respects, and therefore have the same rights." This is a colossal misstatement. The animal rights position states that because animals have the same ability to feel pleasure and pain (and terror), we should treat like cases alike. The legal term is "equal consideration." (Please go to attorney and author Gary Francione’s Animal Rights Law Project for more.) No one wants to give animals the right to vote or own property. We simply ask that they have a right to a life free from suffering at our hands.
  • The genius spin, for me, is to equate all opponents of dog racing with people like me. There’s no other way to say it. But the fact is, Animal People, vegans, and people interested ENOUGH in the ethical, moral, and legal status of animals to alter their lives accordingly, are a miniscule percent of the population.
    • The reality? I’m the only Animal Person in my family or my social circle, and NONE of those people support dog racing. They all eat meat and wear leather, and most have pure breed dogs. And most are Republicans. In other words, opposing dog racing is not even close to an "extremist" position (and I’ll take up that word later–it’s a whole week’s worth of posts).
  • Two misleading connections are immediately obvious and especially egregious:
  1. The dominant, if not only (I didn’t go through every page on the site) source they cite for "the truth" about groups that oppose dog racing, is none other than my favorite lobbying group for the meat, alcohol, tobacco, and sporting industries, the Center for Consumer Freedom. Need I say more?
  2. The Greyhound Racing Association of America chose a mighty interesting list of "Articles of Interest" on the "What You Can Do" section of the "Racing Opponents" page. The list is composed of sixty articles, most about eco-terrorism. So wait, wait, let me get this straight . . . I’m supposed to assume, from the placement of this list, on this site, in this context, that "eco-terrorists" (again, I’ll take up that word later), who, obviously (to the Greyhound Racing people), are disturbed criminals, are the same types who would be insane enough to oppose greyhound racing. The mentality of eco-terrorists equals the mentality of racing opponents.

If you’ve read this far, Congratulations! As you can see, getting to the bottom of these important issues takes time, energy, and patience. It’s so much easier to sail through life not questioning, not researching, and not campaigning for change.

But as I always say when people complain about what a hassle it is to align your actions with your beliefs: Life isn’t always easy, and it isn’t always fair, but it can always be meaningful.

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